"The Emperor's New Clothes" is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" (from Wikipedia)
I’m not a constitutional lawyer, like the occupant of the White House. I am an American citizen, and I take offense when our elected officials and their key staff deceive us and outright lie to us. Whether it’s President Obama, Hillary Clinton, senior State Department staff, or officials inside the Internal Revenue Service, big lies deserve big consequences.
When Bill Clinton was caught in outright lies about his Monica Lewinsky involvement he was impeached, but allowed to remain in office. Now that his wife and her former boss, Barack Obama have topped “Slick Willy’s” prevarications, it is time to take very serious action against all of the perpetrators of a litany of lies and misrepresentations.
Benghazi is just one of this long litany of lies originating in the White House and delivered glibly by a president who parses, dissembles, and on occasion, lies with a calm, convincing demeanor. (Simply Google Obama Lies and choose which list you prefer). Much of the mainstream media have been willing accomplices in this reprehensible behavior. Only a few fact checkers have called out the president and his “misstatements” and untruths.
Press Secretary Jay Carney is similarly fortunate that Pinocchio is a fictional tale. Otherwise, those in the front row of press briefings would be skewered literally by his growing nose. Barack Obama’s omnipresent TelePrompters would be endangered by the presidential proboscis.
Someone – preferable those in Congress who were elected to provide checks and balances in our tripartite form of government need to say, “no mas!” They must pull back the false veil of half-truths, distortions and outright lies, and hold the liars responsible, regardless of their last name or lofty position.
Nothing less is acceptable. If we, and our elected representatives let this immoral, unethical and illegal behavior continue, there is no telling how much more illicit our leadership behavior will become.
I FIRST WROTE THIS FOR FORBES.COM A YEAR AGO…AND I JUST "UPDATED IT" BARELY AT ALL.
WHEN LEADERS LIE—BAD THINGS FOLLOW
©John Mariotti 2012 & 2013
Leaders depend on the trust and loyalty of their followers. When a leader lies, that trust is breached, sometime irreparably. Worse yet, when the president of a company (or the president of the country lies) their credibility is damaged or destroyed and their prominence makes the lie all the more crippling.
Why would a leader lie, when they understand the negative consequences of being caught in that lie? Usually it is to advance an agenda, or support a decision that cannot stand up to scrutiny based on the truth. A typical corporate leader’s lie is the one that follows an acquisition or a merger: “Nothing will change.” What utter nonsense that statement is. Of course things will change—maybe everything. That’s why the acquisition or merger happened. Either there were problems that need to be remedied, and/or synergies or opportunities that were not being fully exploited.
Another typical lie is in the form of a declarative statement: “Trust me; you will be rewarded for your efforts in due time.” Really? When? Why not now, and under what circumstances? Whenever a statement opens with the words “trust me” or “honestly” alarm bells should go off in your head. If the person saying these things were trustworthy or honest, they wouldn’t need to preface their statement by saying so. Their actions would portray that honesty and trustworthiness.
Presidents of companies are surely not scrutinized as closely as the president of the country. The always on, 24/7 news media and cell phone video capability record his words constantly. The result is a lot of video snippets of “misstatements” as the “spin doctors” call them, followed by explanations by staff parsing the words into a more defensible form. This is the challenge of every elected official, and of many high-ranking corporate executives. The larger the constituency and the more recognizable the person, the more likely they will be seen, heard and/or recorded doing or saying things they might later regret. Among those regrets, lies and transgressions are at the top of the list.
Highly regarded Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel told a lie in hopes of “protecting” the program and a handful of star athletes. Once the first lie has been told, it is (and was for him) downhill from there. Ultimately, he lost his job, his credibility and those very athletes he lied to protect suffered anyway. The first lie sets the stage. Bad things happen after that. Lying is contagious and spreads like a virus.
Former NJ Governor Jon Corzine has become infamous for his role in the disappearance of billions of dollars of investor funds from MF Global. Whether he knows where the money went, and is convicted of crimes in the courts is almost beside the point. He has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion. A secondary problem is when someone associates with a known liar, there is a contagion by which they too become suspect—even extending to Corzine’s role in helping fund president Obama’s reelection campaign. Was some of that money “dirty?” Nobody can or will ever know with certainty.
Yet another frequent business lie has to do with the location and longevity of facilities. When an executive comes to town, and tells the townspeople (and employees) how important they are to the company—and then closes the facility, idling the workforce shortly thereafter—the stain from that apparent lie stays with the executive. The executive might not even be overtly lying; the decision about which facilities to close may not have been made yet. Even so, this situation is a “minefield” of credibility killers.
Ironically, there are times that lies can be indirect, or unintentional, or even simple exaggerations. The children’s story about Chicken Little’s claims that “the sky is falling” proved that after repeated exaggerations, few would believe Chicken Little even when “the sky actually was falling.” Many closely watched government reports (like employment data) “sort of lie” when they are released “initially” and then “adjusted” in the following month.
Bosses, political officials, including the President, all suffer from lower regard because of “broken promises,” which are another form of lying. I can’t cite recent data, but every study I have seen for a decade or more shows about 60% of employees do not trust their employers to “level with them.” Certainly the trust of Americans in their Congress is currently even lower than that.
However, since this is an election year, some data on politics is more readily available:
Whether you think a broken campaign promise qualifies as a lie, many people feel that way. In corporate life, when leaders lie, they often are trapped by that lie, and lose the respect and support of their organization. This is a frequent precursor to their failure and losing their jobs—sooner or later.
When elected officials lie, the outcome may be that they too lose their jobs—or at least they should. The question is whether the perception of broken political campaign promises as “lies” puts many incumbents and candidates in jeopardy. There are often extenuating circumstances surrounding corporate statements (the market changed, etc.) and the same goes for broken campaign promises. As an old friend once told me, “There is always a reason but never an excuse for outright lying!”
Sometimes the promises simply cannot be kept (and never should have been made—e.g., closing Guantanamo) but “the path to hell is paved with good intentions,” and noble intentions (alone) do not equate to job security for corporate executives and for elected officials—the most prominent of which is the president, Barack Obama. Simply Google Obama’s Lies and you will see an astounding array of lists and lies. That is frightening—for all Americans and our country.
There you have it. When leaders lie, whatever the circumstances, the justification, rationalization or excuses, bad things invariably follow. It’s hard to tell the truth all the time. An old Jim Carrey movie, Liar, Liar, portrays this dilemma humorously, but is also scary how hard it is to always tell the truth. Which of us do not tell a lie from time to time? Leaders must constantly strive to tell the truth to the greatest extent they can. That doesn’t mean they need to reveal everything. Just try to stick with the truth. That’s the best us mere mortals can hope to do.
THAT'S PLENTY ON THE TOPIC FOR NOW. WATCH FOR MORE IN COMING WEEKS. THESE ISSUES WILL NOT FADE AWAY. TIME WILL ONLY REVEAL MORE SUCH INSTANCES OF DECEPTION AND MISDIRECTION. A FAVORITE OBAMA TACTIC IS TO "CHANGE THE SUBJECT VIA MISDIRECTION." HE WILL DO EVERYTHING HE CAN TO HAMMER THE IRS AND THE AP INTRUSIONS SO HE CAN DRAG ATTENTION AWAY FROM THE BENGHAZI COVERUP AND IT'S LITANY OF LIES AND FAILURES OR LEADERSHIP.
BOTH HILLARY CLINTON AND BARACK OBAMA HAVE THEIR HANDS DIRTY ON BENGHAZI--AND FOUR AMERICANS DIED BECAUSE OF THIS FAILED LEADERSHIP.
MORE TO COME, JOHN
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